When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!
As “When We All Get to Heaven” (chorus above; verses below) brings out, Heaven marks the joyous end of the Christian’s journey.
What is Heaven? The book which I’ve been using as a guide in this series of posts on systematic theology, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994), defines it thus: “Heaven is the place where God most fully makes known His presence to bless” (page 1159). In this post, the final one in the series, I’ll share a little of what Grudem says about Heaven.
Heaven is an actual place, not just a state of mind as some claim. This is clear from Jesus’ promise to his disciples in John 14:2-3, “I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” We don’t know where it is and we can’t see it with the natural senses but it exists and, as John observes in Revelation 21:1–“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away–will somehow be made new at or after the final judgment described in my last post, The Final Judgment and Eternal Punishment. (Both quotations and all other Biblical quotations are from the ESV.)
Revelation 21:1 notes that the earth as well as Heaven will be renewed at that time. Grudem discusses whether it will be simply renewed or whether it will be destroyed and replaced by a new earth created by God. Despite Revelation 21:1 and other passages’ suggesting that it will be destroyed, Grudem thinks that it will just be renewed, arguing that “it is difficult to think that God would entirely annihilate his original creation, thereby seeming to give the devil the last word and scrapping the creation that was originally ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31)” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, page 1161).
Not only will Heaven and the earth be renewed, but also our bodies will be renewed. Thus the entire creation shall be restored to what God originally intended it to be. Our being invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9) indicates that our life in the new creation will include such features of our present life as eating and drinking. Although admitting that we don’t know how much of our present life it will include, Grudem speculates, “Perhaps people will work at the whole range of investigation and development of the creation by technological, creative, and inventive means, thus exhibiting the full extent of their excellent creation in the image of God” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, page 1162).
Most importantly God will be present with us. “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
When We All Get to Heaven
Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His grace.
In the mansions bright and blessèd
He’ll prepare for us a place.
While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky;
But when traveling days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh.
Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.
Onward to the prize before us!
Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
Soon the pearly gates will open;
We shall tread the streets of gold.
(Eliza E. Hewitt)